Milwaukee Bucks: How Sterling Brown can earn a consistent spot in the rotation

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 7: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 7: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After experiencing a flash-filled, but limited rookie campaign last year, Sterling Brown will be looking to make his mark on a more consistent basis for the Milwaukee Bucks in his sophomore season.

No other player for the Milwaukee Bucks garnered more demands of increased playing time from fans than Sterling Brown did last season.

Brown’s rookie year was book-ended with him on the outside looking in as it pertained to the team’s rotation, which was established by both Jason Kidd and Joe Prunty during their respective reigns.

It was midway through his first NBA campaign, specifically starting from the turn of the calendar year to approximately the halfway point in March, where Brown got his greatest run of the season, including four spot starts. Throughout that span, Brown flashed the role playing potential the Bucks saw in him when they acquired his player rights in a draft night trade with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2017 NBA Draft.

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Now with new head coach Mike Budenholzer in the fold, Brown will have a unique benefit in having a clean slate of sorts while building on the foundation he laid for himself last year.

With that said, as much as there is an open pathway for Brown to carve out a more significant role within the team’s rotation, he’ll have to show some strides in key areas to turn that opportunity into a reality.

That starts with reinforcing his complementary scoring/ability to knock down shots from long range. The pure shooting that Brown spectacularly displayed all throughout his time in Dallas at SMU hasn’t seamlessly translated in his brief time in the league.

This comes with a small sample size caveat, but Brown knocked down a respectable 35.2 percent of his 91 three-point attempts while with the Bucks as well as hitting 5 of his 17 attempts from deep (29.4 percent) during his three assignments with the Wisconsin Herd.

Look further into Brown’s shooting proficiency off of the catch and the results are even more mixed, seeing that the former Mustang drained 32.1 percent of his 78 catch-and-shoot threes last season, per

It should be noted that Brown’s mixed three-point shooting efficiency is not a matter of any mechanical issue present in his shot. Simply put, it comes down to him seeing through his adjustment to the NBA three-point line and ironing out his ongoing inconsistency issues.

On to less pressing issues, the true promise Brown displayed throughout his rookie year — his defensive capabilities — may truly be enough for the 23-year-old to be a mainstay in the team’s rotation under Coach Bud.

The impact of Brown’s defensive versatility and tenacity shone bright all throughout his limited playing time last year. Case in point, the Bucks allowed 103.7 points per 100 possessions in the 776 minutes Brown saw the court and in the 3,190 minutes without him, that number rose to 108 points per 100 possessions.

As my fellow co-site expert Adam McGee touched on in his piece regarding Brown’s defensive qualities in the middle of July, his hustle and willingness to battle on the boards can’t be overlooked either, given how promising some of the numbers stood:

"“Only Marshall Plumlee, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a defensive rebounding percentage better than Brown’s 17 percent mark among Bucks players last season, a stat that shows Brown quite literally punching above his weight (and height) in the rebounding stakes.Expanding upon that further, according to stats from Ben Falk’s Cleaning the Glass, Brown ranked among the very best rebounding wings in the NBA last season. Brown rebounded 14.8 percent of opposing team’s missed field goals (93rd percentile among wings), 3.4 percent of Milwaukee’s own misses on the offensive end (82nd percentile among wings) and 2.9 percent of the Bucks’ own missed free throws (89th percentile among wings).”"

When looking at the full complement of traits and skills he holds defensively, the value Brown brings to that end of the floor is hard to ignore and it certainly looms large in whatever defensive scheme Budenholzer and his staff are designing before their first season at the helm in Milwaukee.

In spite of all the encouraging underlying numbers he posted during his rookie year, whether he’ll be given a fairer shake in his second NBA season still stands as the biggest question surrounding Brown as training camp inches ever closer.

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We’ll have our answer on all of this soon enough when the season tips off in nearly two months, but at a minimum, Brown seems slated to showcase his abilities on a greater basis.